Why does Donald Rumsfeld always win? We’re reading the George Packer account of the genesis of the Iraq war, The Assassin’s Gate, and Packer points out that Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney and their surrogates won every bureaucratic battle they encountered.
How does this happen? Lawrence Wilkerson was the chief of staff for Colin Powell from 2002 to 2005; he describes Powell’s testimony on WMDs before the UN Security Council as a “low point.” He’s only recently gone on record to describe what brought us war in 2003: it was a cabal, a concert of efforts by a small group of people determined to cause a war and then get out quickly.
Its insular and secret workings were efficient and swift — not unlike the decision-making one would associate more with a dictatorship than a democracy. This furtive process was camouflaged neatly by the dysfunction and inefficiency of the formal decision-making process, where decisions, if they were reached at all, had to wend their way through the bureaucracy, with its dissenters, obstructionists and “guardians of the turf.”
But the secret process was ultimately a failure. It produced a series of disastrous decisions and virtually ensured that the agencies charged with implementing them would not or could not execute them well.
Lawrence Wilkerson, The White House Cabal, The Los Angeles Times, October 25, 2005
Wilkerson will be in a studio for a full hour next Tuesday. He’s eager to take questions, to explain what it is that we don’t understand about our own government. How does a bureaucracy create a war? What are we to make of the reports of turf wars between State, Pentagon and CIA? How did so many people, who were so disappointed with lack of transparency or or process or a plan, fail to say anything for so long?
- Extra Credit Reading
- New America Foundation, Weighing the Uniqueness of the Bush Administration’s National Security Decision-Making Process: Boon or Danger to American Democracy?The Los Angeles Times, The White House Cabal, Lawrence Wilkerson Op-ed, October 25, 2005